55 Questions to Ask Before Restructuring a PPC Account

If you are a pay-per-click manager, at some point you’re going to inherit an existing account. This may happen when you start a new job, take over an account from a colleague, or onboard a new client with your agency. There is a sense of excitement as you find new opportunities within an account, but all too often folks jump straight into a major campaign restructure before they have a strong grasp on every element of the account.

The reasons to restructure an account are numerous: increase ad relevancy, better search query sculpting, improve conversion rate, streamline reporting, and the list goes on and on. When done properly, large-scale restructures can significantly improve the performance of a paid search account. However, a restructure can have negative implications if you aren’t careful.

Before the final diagnosis is prescribed and you dive into a major restructure, you should dig into few specific areas of your account. You may find that a top-down restructure may not be your immediate course of action to improve performance. Either way, you need to grasp all of these elements because they will impact your new structure – but one or more of these might take the account to the next level without so much heavy lifting.

Here is a checklist of items to review before committing to a restructure. And these are all items to include in your restructure plan. I mention this because often people think a “restructure” is just moving keywords into new campaigns/ad groups and that will magically make everything work better. For example, if you have poorly written ads serving your keywords now and don’t revise them, then you’ll still have poor ads and weak CTR after your restructure.

The list below starts with “bigger” issues that could be influencing the account and should be addressed before any restructures:

Tracking Issues

Are you sure that all of the tracking within the account is correct? Are ALL pixels in place and firing properly? Are ALL URLs tagged in the correct fashion? Has tracking been reliable for a sustained period of time? Are you tracking phone calls? And if so, what are the trends for phone calls and how important are they? Should the restructure focus on one conversion action over another?

Seasonal Trends

When you reviewed account performance, did you take into seasonal trends? For example, if performance has been soft for the most recent two months, is this due to account issues or natural ebb-and-flow of business? Also, have there been any news-related items that could have impacted performance at one time? This could be negative or positive in terms of performance.

Landing Pages

Are all of the ads going to the best landing page? Are the landing pages/product pages functioning properly (no errors, etc.)? What tests have been conducted on the landing pages? If there have been changes, what was tested, what were the outcomes, and what were the date ranges? Are there any tests running NOW? Or are there any tests scheduled to launch soon? Also, you should consider optimizing the landing pages before the restructure if possible. This way, you can get some data on your changes since it will take a while to settle the restructure.

Geographic Performance

Is the account targeted to the correct geographic targets? Are there any geographic locations that have shifted in performance (good or bad)? Or have there been any recent bleeders that could be negatively impacting the account? What are the geographic bid modifiers within the account and are they still a valid strategy? Should these modifiers be incorporated into the new campaigns?

Language Targeting

Along with geographic targeting, what languages are currently being targeted? Do they make sense for the goals of the campaign? Could some languages be added or removed?

Bidding Strategies/Portfolios

Is there any bid automation firing within the account right now? Has this automation helped the account? What are the parameters of these bidding portfolios? Do the parameters need to be tweaked or should the automation be ditched completely for something else? How will the restructure impact the bidding rules? Remember, when moving keywords, ads and other elements of the account will reset the history and this could have serious consequences on your bidding automation. Also, you’ll need to establish new portfolios/folders/rules if you move keywords to new locations in the account.

Match Types

Are the match types too loose or tight for the account? Is broad match causing inefficiency or is exact match restricting growth? Could launching a new match type impact performance without a major restructure? Within the restructure, what will the introduction of new match types mean for the account and how will you manage them?

Campaign Settings

Are the campaign settings correct? Often these are silent killers if not established properly. Could an errant setting be holding back performance? What settings should be included in the new campaigns?

Device Performance

What the heck is mobile doing in this account? What are the mobile bid modifiers? Are mobile-preferred ads present within the ad groups? How does the website display on mobile devices? Do all of these mobile tactics need to be addressed before a restructure? If the website looks terrible on mobile devices, moving keywords to improve search query relevance probably won’t make a huge leap toward better performance.

Ad Scheduling

Is there ad scheduling within the campaigns? Are these hourly/daily settings still valid for the account? Should these settings be adjusted before the restructure to see how they impact performance? Should these settings be incorporated into your restructure?

Shared Budgets

Are there campaigns being limited due to shared budgets? Often managers will group campaigns into shared budgets to maintain spend levels for specific initiatives – are these settings still valid? Should you create a plan for these budgets when you shift elements into new campaigns and ad groups?

Negative Keywords

Are the negative keyword lists still valid and correct? Are there shared negative keyword lists that are incorrectly applied to specific campaigns? Could re-vamping the negative list give the account an immediate lift? What is your negative keyword strategy for the new structure?

Ad Copy Testing

What is being tested right now? What has been tested in the past? What have been the outcome of those tests? Will you compose new ads for the new ad groups or utilize the old ads? Should you include a blend of old and new ads? Will this be too many elements testing at one time? Also, what is the strategy for ALL of your ad extensions? This includes sitelinks, call-out extensions, call extensions, and the list goes on and on.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a great many tactics to consider when planning an account restructure. And this list doesn’t even cover all of them – this just what I thought of in one sitting!

Yes, restructuring accounts to align with future goals is often needed and can lead to great results; but don’t forget that a restructuring isn’t just simply moving keywords around in the account. Next time, we’ll dive deeper into strategic thinking in regard to a restructure.

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